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Frank Fenner AC CMG MBE
, 2007

by Jude Rae

oil on canvas (frame: 118.5 cm x 103.0 cm, support: 106.7 cm x 101.0 cm)

Frank Fenner AC CMG MBE (1914–2010), virologist, began his research career during World War II, working to curb malaria in New Guinea. Appointed Professor of Microbiology in Canberra’s John Curtin School of Medical Research in 1949, he began investigating pox viruses. After many years’ groundbreaking research into myxomatosis, from 1969 he worked with the World Health Organisation to eradicate smallpox, chairing its Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication from 1977 to 1979 and announcing its banishment in 1980. Director of the John Curtin School from 1967 to 1973, and later of the Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies at ANU, Fenner published some 300 scientific papers and wrote or co-wrote twenty-two books. His many honours included the Japan Prize (1988); the Copley Medal of the Royal Society (1995); the Albert Einstein World Award for Science (2000); and the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science (2002). He had five honorary doctorates, the last from his alma mater, the University of Adelaide. Fenner lived in Canberra for more than sixty years, for most of them in the Red Hill house Robin Boyd designed for him and his late wife, Bobbie, in 1952. He retired from his Visiting Fellowship at the ANU, and academia in general, at the age of ninety-three. In 2007, he published an autobiography that also reflected on the life and influence of his father, Nature, Nurture and Chance: The Lives of Frank and Charles Fenner.

Jude Rae (b. 1956) trained in art and art history in Sydney, where she participated in her first group exhibition in 1985. During the 1990s she lived and worked in New Zealand, teaching in various art institutions, exhibiting in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland and studying at the University of Canterbury. She returned to Australia in 1999, to teach painting in Sydney for three years. For about a decade she lived in Canberra, where she painted a number of portraits, remarkable for their quiet, cerebral air, in the studio attached to her home. During this period she won the Portia Geach Prize twice, in 2005 and 2008.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Commissioned with funds provided by Mr Anthony Adair and Ms Karen MacLeod
Accession number: 2007.24.1